Charles A. Peugeot
Charles Peugeot was born on March 24th, 1931. He lived on Pinebridge Road in Ossining, New York. After he graduated from Ossining High School in 1949, he joined the New York State National Guard and requested to be assigned to the 101st Signal Battalion, Company A, which was stationed in Ossining. This New York based National Guard unit has been around since 1895. During the Korean War it earned the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for outstanding performance in defense of South Korea.
On October 15th, 1950 the 101st Signal Battalion was inducted into the U.S. Army. This happened because the Korean War was on and skilled Signalmen were needed. His unit was sent to Fort Gordon, Georgia for training. The U.S. Army Signal Center at Fort Gordon,”The Home of the Signal Corps”, trains more soldiers than any other branch training center of the United States Army.
Corporal Peugeot was next sent to Japan with his unit for more training. From there the 101st Signal Battalion was sent to Korea. They landed at Inchon on April 8th, 1951. Inchon was the site of a daring invasion of North Korea staged several months prior to his arrival.
His unit was attached to the IX Corps. It’s Mission was to provide communications for the Corps Headquarters and for units operating directly under the Corp.
Upon arrival the 101st Battalion was immediately put into play in support of Operation RUGGED. Launched on April 5, it was an advance toward the high ground north of the 38th Parallel.
During his time in Korea corporal Charles Peugeot’s unit was also involved in 3 major campaigns of the war; the First UN counteroffensive, the CCF Spring offensive and the UN summer-fall offensive.
The Battalion was close enough to the front to have to sleep on the ground in sleeping bags. They would wake up to the artillery gunfire going over their heads and exploding in the hills beyond them. Once some of them spotted a North Korean soldier off in the distance and they all began to fire at him. No one knows if they hit him. However, this is unlikely, since he was out of the range of their rifles anyway.
One event that really affected the men in the battalion was when a truck drove up from the front lines and stopped at their camp. It was filled with dead American Soldiers, stacked up like rolls of carpets. Blood was dripping from the tail gate.
According to accounts told by First Sergeant Eugene Hughes, who was the Team Chief of the squad Peugeot was in, his job was as a “Stretch Wire”; one who climbs telephone poles to work on the communications equipment there. He ran 4 channel cable for FM radio equipment.
Sergeant Hughs said that, Peugeot liked working on mechanical things, especially guns. He was always fixing them or working with them in some way. Since they were in a combat zone all the men carried weapons, mostly M1 Carbines. The Carbine as it is called, is a smaller rifle than the standard Infantry M1 Garand Rifle. It has a 15 or 30 round clip and fires in semi-automatic mode.
Hughes liked Peugeot, and thought he was as friendly a kid as any of them. “He was always joking with the boys”. “Some of them were from the south, and Peugeot would kid around with a Corporal Smith saying “You must be related to Stonewall Jackson’”. Smith was one of the men that was close to Peugeot. There was also a Sergeant Brown as Hughes recalls. Other men in the company that Peugeot knew were Lt. Cav, Lt Frangello, Lou Tarrentally, Joe Valardo (from Ossining) and Bob Taggert.
Chipyany-ni, South Korea
On a warm Sunday afternoon , July 8th, 1951 Sgt Hughes sent Corporal Peugeot and one other man on a mission. Most likely to get supplies in a three quarter ton truck. This man and Peugeot always stuck together because they were best friends. While on this mission something happened and a gun when off. It may have been that the two of them were cleaning the rifle. Corporal Charles Peugeot Jr. was killed. They said it was his best friend that had accidentally shot him. No one knew for sure. The corporals body was brought directly to graves registration and burial. His best friend did not return to the unit either. He had a nervous break down and some say he never recovered.
Hugh’s comments that “The Carbine chambers a round once it is cocked. Some people forget this and think simply removing the magazine makes the gun safe.”
The company had a service for Peugeot. A Catholic priest setup an alter on a table outside on a grassy hill. The men gathered around as the priest read from the bible. The captain who was a Catholic knelt in prayer. As he did, Hughes heard his leather pistol holster squeak. He says for some reason he always remembers that moment.
Eugene Hughes says he will never forget that event. It has bothered him all these years. He somehow feels responsible for the death of Charles since he had sent him on that mission.
Sergeant Hughes is a World War II veteran, who served in a Signal Battalion in Europe as well as a Korean War veteran. He was shipped back to the states and out of the army in September, shortly after Peugeot’s death. He currently lives in Ripley Tennessee with his wife Betty.
Hughs wrote home to his wife about Charles Peugeot ‘s death. “Honey we had our first man to get killed today and he was in my sqd [squad]. He was a young boy about eighteen [.] He was a pretty nice guy.”
A local paper ran an article about Charles on July 21st, 1951 based on an interview with his family. The article incorrectly stated that his death was due to the truck he was in hitting a mine. It also stated that his family had received a letter from their son dated the same day he was killed. He had mentioned the assignment he was given that day by Hughes and he said that some South Korean soldiers where helping them with reeling in the telephone wire.
Corporal Charles Alfred Peugeot is buried in St. Augustine Cemetery, Ossining, New York.
Interview with Eugene Hughs conducted by David L. Egerton
Research and story by David L. Egerton
Photographs and Letters provided by Eugene Hughs